Wednesday 31 October 2012

And so it begins

With the recent completion of my Micro Armour test models and bases I decided it was time for me to commit to this 'new' scale and buy some models. As already stated I want to collect forces for a Western Desert campaign using 6mm models with the Flames of War rules. To that end I have been looking through the various North Africa themed Intelligence Handbooks and have decided to shift my focus from 1941 to mid 1942 because I feel that was a more dynamic period and gives the widest range of vehicles for me to choose from. 

My intention is to build several medium sized companies for the Afrika Korp and the British Commonwealth forces facing them. I placed my first order yesterday so hopefully I can get started painting these by the weekend. I ordered enough vehicles and infantry to make a whole Tank Company for the Afrika Korp (I'll get the British models later) and all for just £30 including postage! 

  • 10x    Pzkw IV Ausf D 
  • 5x      Pzkw II Ausf 
  • 5x      Pzkw I Ausf 
  • 6x      SdKfz 231 '8 RAD'
  • 50x    Afrika Korps Infantry

The equivalent force in 15mm from battlefront would probably have cost me close to £200, maybe £150 if I shopped around or bought alternatives from the likes of Plastic Soldier Company or Forged in Battle. This little lot won't take me long to paint either and then I'll buy the British. I could get used to this! 

I'm still working on a few other things as well, including a large batch of desert bases ready for these vehicles. I'm also working on my long suffering 15mm Panzergrenadiers and I may get little more of these painted while I wait for the Afrika Korps to arrive. Plus I think the Delvers have a game this Friday and I may be called upon to run my HEX game, so I guess I need to prepare for that. Busy busy busy!

Monday 29 October 2012

Airborne Assault at Duxford

Its the kids Autumn half term and I have a long weekend off to spend a bit of time with the family. So on Saturday we braved the driving rain and single digit temperatures to revisit the IWM Duxford probably for the last time this year. As Friends of Duxford we had free entry so it was a cheep day out for us and because its such a massive site there are plenty of new things to see. Indeed I found an area that I hadn't been into before, the British Army regimental museum of the Parachute Regiment (named Airborne Assault). This dedicated display area is inside the AirSpace hanger and here are a few pictures from inside.

An amazing painting of the D-Day Landing Zones for the Parachute Regiment
An impressive collection of weapons used by the Regiment
One of many training posters for the new parachute troops
Life sized model of the Pilot and Co-Pilot of a Horsa Glider
'The Airborne Soldier' sculpted by Gilbert Ledward in 1946-47
Regimental Drum with Battle Honours 
The VC of Lance Sergeant John Daniel Baskeyfield for his bravery at Arnhem in 1944
Regimental flag with Battle Honours
Another training poster
A modern Parachute soldier
This was a really interesting little museum with several models and some incredible 3D maps of key battles in the regiments history. These maps were really difficult to photograph (behind glass and lit by spotlights) so I don't have any good pictures pictures to share. But I'll be coming back to Duxford again eventually and I'll definitely get another opportunity to get a good picture. If your interesting in the British Parachute Regiment this is a really interesting little museum and well worth a visit. 

Sunday 28 October 2012

First 6mm Tanks off the Production Line

Following on from my earlier post about bases here's my first batch of 6mm tanks based up, labelled and varnished. A trio of Tigers to give the Allied a headache.

Tiger Platoon
Base Labels
Now that I have painted my 'test' models I'm really happy with the way these turned out. I wish I'd discovered micro armour years ago, but now I need to make up for lost time! Guess I'll be hitting the internet this evening and exercising the credit card!! 

Desert Bases for 6mm

Bases and base dressing is as important for 6mm or micro armour miniatures as it is for 15mm or 28mm figures. Good basing can make a well painted army look fantastic and can even make a mediocre painted model look impressive. Back in the early days of wargaming it was an often overlooked part of modelling but in recent years it has been increasingly recognised by gamers as an important element of army painting. So when I decided to buy and paint two new armies for 6mm micro armour wargames set in the Western Desert in WWII I knew I needed to get the base design right as early as possible. 

I painted my first 6mm tanks a couple of weeks ago but held off from basing them until I had made some choices about design. The idea being that whatever base design I settled upon would be the standard that I would use for the whole army whether I painted models for it now or in a years time. I want a consistent look across my armies even if I continue to build and paint for them for many years to come. First off I made up a batch of mixed sand and modelling gravel with roughly 2 parts sand to one part gravel (Woodland Scenic's medium Tallus).

Once I had created my basing gravel I added it to several bases so I could experiment with a range of base colours and highlights until I had found the 'right' shades. Below are some examples of the different combinations I tried.

Test A

Base - 822 Middlestone 

Mid Tone - 821 German Camo Beige
Highlight - 918 Ivory
Test B

Base - 822 Middlestone 

Mid Tone - 821 German Camo Beige
Highlight - 918 Ivory
Wash - GW Devlan Mud
Test C
Base - 822 Middlestone 
Mid Tone - 821 German Camo Beige
Highlight - 918 Ivory
Wash - W&N Peat Brown
Test D (i, ii, iii, iv)
Base - 921 English Uniform
Mid Tone - 912 Tan Yellow
Highlight -
i 847 Dark Sand (Upper L)
ii 918 Ivory - St Drybrush (Upper R)
iii 918 Ivory - Lt Drybrush (Bottom L)
iv 918 Ivory - Lt Drybrush+Wash (Bot R)
Test E
Base - 983 Flat Earth
Mid Tone - 882 Middlestone
Highlight - 819 Iraqi Sand 
Test F
Base - 983 Flat Earth
Mid Tone - 912 Tan Yellow
Highlight - 819 Iraqi Sand

In the end I went with Test Diii (Base - 921 English Uniform, Mid Tone - 912 Tan Yellow, Highlight - 918 Ivory) but to be absolutely sure I then painted up a set of bases to check the consistency of my method and the finished look on a whole set of bases. I have made these with a flat area on one edge so I can add a label. 

I appreciate my choice of colours may not be to everyone's taste but it looks right to me. I wanted something light but with some depth of colour and variation in texture that would represent the rocky and barren ground of the Western Desert. So long as I am consistent with this pallet in future I think it will look really good across the two armies I will be painting. 

Now I will go and fix my first batch of tanks to their new bases. I still have a little more work to do - all the bases will need to be labelled and I will then varnish and add Dullcoat to protect the paintwork - but hopefully I can put some pictures up soon. 

Thursday 25 October 2012

Brooklands Museum

On Wednesday I went to a work related conference in my capacity as the principle buyer of safety equipment for my departments Field Inspectors. The conference itself was interesting in a dull sort of way (five hours of presentations about 'occupational hand care'!) but the setting was much more enjoyable - Brookland's Motor Museum. When the lectures finished most of the guests, including myself and my Boss, shot outside to take a quick look around this surprisingly diverse and interesting museum.

A Tallboy bomb
Sopwith Camel
Hurricane under restoration
The 'Loch Ness' Wellington Bomber
Rear view of the Wellington
The nose of the Wellington
A Grand Slam bomb
The Bank at Brooklands
WWII Air Raid Shelter
Inside the WWII Air Raid Shelter
Classic car collection
London Bus Collection
Me my Boss and a college from another company on a Routmaster Bus
Racing Cars
The conference may have been dull but it had its compensations...its a hard life, but somebody has to do it! 

Tuesday 23 October 2012

Bonfire of the Hard Drives

I've had a busy weekend getting some important jobs done and some model work completed. I'm afraid I didn't take any photo's so you'll just have to take my word for it. I've also been away and back again on company business so all told its been a very busy few days and I'm feeling pretty done in. And its only Tuesday!!

On Saturday, with the help of my youngest daughter, I built some of the 4Ground MDF buildings I purchased at SELWG. These were two sets of shops and a terrace of three houses. I now have quite a collection of these, more than enough to represent a small village or the edge of a larger town on the games table. The young Padawan enjoyed helping and took great pleasure in correcting me when I read the instructions wrong! 

I also painted my first set of 6mm tanks (three Tiger I's) although I don't consider them finished yet as I have yet to base them. I'm still waiting for the flat edged MDF bases I ordered from to arrive. I only ordered them Friday and expect delivery in a day or two. Once I have these I'll do a few experiments to work out the style of the base dressing I want to use for my new armies. I want to keep things simple but also consistent so I need to settle on a particular style before I start painting and basing in earnest. 

The other big job I have been doing this weekend is destroying old computers! I have three defunct and non-functional PC's (two laptops and an ancient desktop) that have been sitting around for ages. I have managed to restore one of the laptops to working order for my youngest daughter to play with. The other laptop and desktop however were beyond hope so I stripped out their Hard drives.

The computers will be sent for recycling but the hard drives are staying with me, for a few weeks at least. Formatting isn't a cast iron guarantee of erasing all data from a hard drive so I have elected to use the best 'free' wiping technique I know. Total destruction in the heart of a November 5th Bonfire. I'm not sure what old Guy Fawkes would have made of this!

Friday 19 October 2012

Variety and all that...

Its been a busy week one way or another and I had almost forgot to post about The Delvers game last Friday. As usual we didn't play our D&D 4E campaign (I think that's dead on the water) but we did manage to gather together six players for a change. Instead of playing our campaign we pulled out a few alternatives and actually managed to fit in three quite different games.

Derek is a bit of a Dr Who fanatic and brought along this simple game to play. We were halfway through playing it when I realised it said "Ages 6+" on the lid of the box! 
John brought along several card based games including Fluxx. The rules start off simple. Everyone has three cards then each turn you take a card from the deck and play a card. 
Some of the cards are New Rules so the game gets progressively more complex as it goes on. We had two relatively quick games with these but decided to finish the evening with something else.
The last game we played was the Back to the Future Card Game. Each player has a unique set of pivotal events they must fix in time before time travel gets 'uninvited'. Players can change Linchpin events which in turn change several 'Ripplepoint' events to change as well. 
With six players all trying to manipulate the timeline to their own ends it quickly became very complex and frustrating. Time and again vital linchpins were swapped back and forth thwarting any attempt at a plan or strategy. Good fun but very frustrating.

We had a fun evening, swapping news and catching up as we played. We also set our timetable for the coming weeks so hopefully we can get a few more games in and avoid cancelled meetings.

Thursday 18 October 2012

Micro Armour Wargaming

Today's ramblings are a sort of follow-on from my post earlier in the week about the micro armour I purchased at SELWG. I have spent a lot of time trawling the Internet for ideas not only regarding where to buy future acquisitions in this scale but also looking at rules and basing options. After just four days I have clearly only scraped the surface of this subject, but I already have a few ideas. So this post is in the form of a 'thinking out loud' moment, and I need your suggestions, experiences and advice. 

So what am I looking for? I already have some basic requirements of what I want from a system in this scale and they are as follows:

  • Firstly I have decided that if I am going to buy into using micro armour then I want my tanks to be one model equals one tank. I've played plenty of games where the ratio of models to real soldiers is not 1:1 but when it comes to vehicles I have a real problem pretending that one tank represents several tanks or a whole platoon. 
  • Second I want a system that is easy to play, quick to learn or one that I already know. I'm very much in the keep-it-simple school of thought when it comes to wargames rules and while I can see the usefulness of detailed rules in skirmish wargames I don't think detail adds anything useful to company level or larger engagements. 
  • Third - and in some ways this follows on from the last point - I don't want to get bogged down in masses of pre game paperwork. I'm quite happy to used a systems army lists but I'd like to avoid a situation where I am spending valuable painting or playing time hand writing lists of Stats. 
'Operation Deadstick' by Maidstone Wargames Society
So working within these constraints I'm strongly considering following my initial inspiration (the Operations Deadstick game I saw it SELWG) and using the FOW rules. For me there are several benefits. First its a system I am familiar with so I won't have to learn a whole new set of rules (or buy another rulebook). Ranges and movement distances are much better proportioned in smaller scale. I can continue to use the army lists I am familiar with and can continue to use to do all my 'pre game admin' and paperwork. I can also use my existing base labels to identify units which again means keeping to a system I (and my opponent) are familiar with. 

I'm still keeping an open mind to other options but this is the way I am leaning at the moment. Incidentally I'm considering mounting my 6mm figures and vehicles on small FOW bases (ie 25mm x 32mm) which will allow ample room for the figures and labelling. I particularly like the look of the MDF ones from Warbases as the non-bevelled edges will make them much easier to pick up.

If there is one thing I have noticed over the last few days it is that there is no one 'right' way to tackle this scale. I have come to some conclusions of my own but I clearly still have a lot to learn about gaming in this scale. So what do you think? Am I completely insane, or inspired. Should I expect the 'men in white coats' to come knocking at my door or am I on the right track?

Tuesday 16 October 2012

Posties Rejects Dice Givaway

I've seen some shameless behaviour in my day but fellow Reject the Angry Lurker has taken the crown of 'Blog Whore' off of Ray's head and planted it firmly on his own. If you follow the Lurker's Blog (and I'm sure you do, its not bad after all) you'll be aware that he is giving away some Posties Rejects Dice. Ray is also disposing of some of these rare and marvellous D6's on his blog Don't Throw A One. All well and good so far...but then came Sunday. 

Unbeknownst to I and the other members of our motley fraternity, Fran took a handful of Rejects Dice to SELWG to give away to various friends within the hobby. There was method to his madness of course because all those who received dice are also popular Bloggers and within 24 hours every one of them had written a glowing post about their newly acquired D6 along with a link to the Angry Lurkers Blog. I take my hat off to you Lurker, for such shameless self promotion! LoL. 

There is still time to get your hands on some of these much sought after dice - or at least to be in with a chance to win some. Both Ray and Fran will be drawing winners midday tomorrow (Wednesday 17th) so pop on over to their Blog's and throw your name in the hat.

1:285 Micro Armour from GHQ

When I was at SELWG on Sunday I got chatting to the guys from the Maidstone Wargames Society about their Operation Deadstick Game. They showed me some of the 3D buildings they had made specially for this game and of course the Bridges were made this way as well. All very impressive and the finished game looked very impressive as well as being historically accurate. But the thing that caught my attention was the fact that they were using Micro Armour (1:285 or 6mm scale) with a simplified version of the Flames of War rules. 

Then later in the show, up on the 'balcony' area, I came across a huge micro armour game of the Arab Israeli war with dozens of tanks and helicopters in an epic tank clash. The seeds of an idea were beginning to be planted....

Streatham & Tooting Wargamers - Arab Israeli War

Perhaps ill advisedly I mentioned this to the other Rejects and after that I was doomed. It was like having three little devils sitting on my shoulder whispering "Buy, buy, buy..." into my ear. I didn't stand a chance, and in the end I did purchase a few tanks, just to give them a try out. However I should say that common sense kicked in and I managed to restrained my impulse purchase to just a small 'sample' of models. I wanted to see how they painted up, explore some rule systems online and decide on what period I wanted to play before I threw some serious money at a completely new project.

Now that I have had a couple of days to think this over I'm really getting excited by the prospect of 'branching out' into other theatres of WWII beyond my normal focus on the Normandy Campaign. In particular I have long had an interest in the conflict in the Western Desert in 1940-41 and maybe - through the relatively inexpensive models of companies like GHQ and others - I will get a chance to play this particular period after all. There are several army sets I could buy or I could build up my forces a little bit at a time. Whatever I decide it most definitely won't break the bank with an Army pack coming in less than the cost of a single platoon of tanks for Flames of War!

Rest easy folks, I'm not about to abandon 15mm wargaming, but it does increasingly look like I'll be  scaling down and building some new armies for some Western Desert action in the near future.

Monday 15 October 2012

SELWG 2012 - Part 4

Right this is the last part of my picture review of the show (honest!). As you have probably gathered from my photo's so far I think the standard of games at this years show was very high. I've seem most of these games earlier in the year, but many appear to have undergone improvements and refinements and its always fun to see what's new since the last show. 

The Redhill Gamers put on a Carlist War game and the standard of painting was very high.
Once again its the little details that made this enjoyable to look at. This little Commanded vignette was particularly good.
As were these lancers...
And these infantry units...
And Artillery!
Another game I have seen before was that by Deal Wargames Club - Danger in Denmark. 
The table had lost of interesting scenery on it and featured some nice 'early war' Germans. 
This game was using the Rapid Fire rules and included ground troops and aircraft so the game had plenty of height as well as depth. 
Peter Pig - Patrols in the Sudan
'Climb Mount Nittaka' by Staines Wargames Club has been at several shows and has always seemed to be well attended by participants.
Its visually interesting, simple to play and of course re-tells an important moment of history (a day that 'lives in infamy' none-the-less)
I was there just in time to see them win Best Participation Game if I recall correctly
You may have guessed from my unbridled enthusiasm (and tons of photo's) that I rather enjoyed this show, and you'd be right. Its my last big show for the year (I won't be going to Warfare) until probably Cavalier in February. This is a long time between shows for me but I think I have had my fix of eye-candy games to see me through the lean winter months. And thanks to at least one game at the show I have now branched out into another scale! 

All the pictures seen here (and a few more besides can be viewed on my Picas Web Album page here:
SELWG 2012